In March 2022, Governor DeWine signed Senate Bill (S.B.) 215, known as Ohio's "Permitless-Carry" Law. Effective June 13, 2022, Ohioans who are classified as "qualified adults" may carry or conceal a firearm without a permit and without completing the eight-hour training course that was previously required. However, the firearm must not be a dangerous ordnance or otherwise restricted under Ohio law. Pursuant to S.B. 215, a "qualified adult" means a person who is 21 years of age or older who is not legally prohibited from possessing or receiving a firearm under federal or state law and who satisfies all of the criteria listed in Section 2923.125 (D)(1)(a) to (j), (m), (p), (q), and (s) of the Ohio Revised Code. Generally, these sections refer to the application and background check process.
What does this mean for Ohio employers?
S.B. 215 does not further restrict a private employer's right to limit firearms on employer property. Private employers may continue to maintain and create their own policies prohibiting firearms on their premises or property, consistent with state law. However, qualified adults, along with permit holders, may now also store firearms in their personal vehicles parked on employer premises (as permit holders have been able to do since a change in the law in 2017), provided the vehicle is parked in a location where it is otherwise permitted to be and any firearm and ammunition are locked in the trunk, glove box, or another enclosed compartment or container within the privately owned motor vehicle.
Public employers continue to be prohibited from establishing, maintaining, or enforcing any policy or rule that prohibits a person with a valid concealed handgun license from storing the firearm or ammunition in the person's privately owned motor vehicle, even when the vehicle is parked on the public employer's property. This employer prohibition now applies to qualified adults. However, concealed weapons continue to be banned from government buildings (including police stations, jails, and courtrooms), airports and airplanes, places of worship, or any place where the carrying of a concealed weapon is prohibited by federal law (OH Rev. Code Sec. 2923.1210; OH Rev. Code Sec. 2923.236).
What should Ohio employers do?
While this change in Ohio law does not require a wholesale change to a company's handbook, you should update your handbook to note the new "qualifying adult" language. In addition, now is a good time to make certain you have a strong and enforceable workplace violence policy that covers not only the change regarding firearms, but other weapons and issues surrounding threats or acts of workplace violence.
Please contact any member of Taft's Employment & Labor Relations practice group for additional information on how Ohio's new law affects your company policies.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.